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TORONTO, ONT. – The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) today responded to a proposal from Liberal leadership candidate Gerard Kennedy that would allow bargaining between Ontario school board unions and the Ontario government to extend beyond the government's December 31 deadline without imposition of contracts.
Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario, said the suggestion was a positive step, and echoes what CUPE has been saying. "The government's artificial deadline has created a crisis, undermining the bargaining process which has served unions, employers and communities for generations. Parties are much more likely to work toward a negotiated agreement without the threat of imposed contracts hanging over their heads."
The Liberal government, with the help of the Conservatives, passed Bill 115, legislation which would allow the Minister of Education to override collective bargaining on December 31 by imposing contracts on school boards, effectively taking away workers' democratic rights to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment.
"CUPE would support a proposal that provides a more productive environment, one that removes the threat of unilaterally imposed contracts by the Minister, and which permits bargaining to take place," said Hahn, noting the government's deadline has had a destabilizing effect on schools. "Removing the deadline would reduce the stress being felt by parents, students and workers."
CUPE, which represents 55,000 school board workers covered by 114 collective agreements, has been campaigning for the Liberals to repeal Bill 115, and to back off any similar legislation the Liberals have threatened to introduce, which would affect the more than 500,000 public-sector workers across the province.
"These bills would strip workers of their democratic rights to collectively bargain contracts, and for those workers who are not permitted to strike, such as healthcare workers or paramedics, it would also remove their right to impartial third-party arbitration to resolve differences with their employers," said Hahn. "A bargained solution is a much better result for all parties than one which is shoved down their throats."
For more information, contact Craig Saunders, 416-576-7316